This weeks Nifty Tip comes in a small personal story with an expiration date of 2007.
My husband cleaned up our first floor when I was out running errands on Saturday. I walked in, saw what he had accomplished and I was INSPIRED to tidy something myself. It'd been a good year since I last cleaned and purged my little pantry. As I stood there, looking at my own pantry, I heard myself say things that might sound familiar, "I should have done this months ago, I'm a bad person. Look at all those shopping bags, I never use them, but I can't throw them out, I think I'll just jam them back up there on that top shelf because I alone have to save the earth. Oh my gosh, that balsamic vinegar got all over the shelf, this is gross, this is sticky. I'm gross. Why didn't I notice this before?! Ugh, I don't feel like cleaning, I just feel like tidying, this is too much. Ok, little spices come over here, let me look at your teeny tiny expiration dates . . . . 2007 . . . #%#&&#%^@%$@@!! Tumeric from 2007, and that is when it EXPIRED, who knew when I bought it. Paige, you are so disorganized and wasteful and you should have used that $7 bottle of turmeric. You know what, I'm a mess, I need a diet coke and lie down. I'll do the pantry tomorrow, when I feel up to it."
So much judgement, so many opinions, so many thoughts slowing down a perfectly fun and fabulous 30 minute organizing project. If that tiny pantry wasn't mine, if I hadn't bought the turmeric myself, if the balsamic vinegar spilled on someone else's shelf, if the paper bags were jammed up in a client's top shelf. . . well, here is what I would have said. "Oh, I love this teeny tiny pantry, so efficient. Ok, too many bags, which don't you ever use? The Chipotle ones? Ok great, let's recycle those, keep one bag of grocery bags in the basement for the book sorting project, keep what fits in this slot and pitch the rest. Ok, looks like vinegar and oil tray needs a re-boot, where are you paper towels, this will only take a second. Spices, get over here! Wait, hold on, I need my reading glasses. HAHAHHAHHAHAHAHhahahahhaha did you know this turmeric expired in 2007, how funny? What was it for? I know, I buy those $7 spices for one dish too, hysterical!"
Do you hear the difference? We can be so mean to ourselves and then not only are we organizing the pantry (or our taxes, or the pile of papers, or the bookshelf) we are also berating ourselves, wishing we were different, feeling guilty and coming up with solutions that are too big and tiring -- We will never buy over priced spices again, we will tidy the pantry once a week, we will always clean up the spills RIGHT away. All that judgement, berating and scheming steals our energy away from simply tidying up, wiping down, sorting, pitching and enjoying our tiny slice of organized pantry. No wonder we give up, have a diet coke and lie down.
May I suggest the next time you bump into an organizing issue in your house you pretend it's not yours. It's your dear, dear friend's, and you are just helping them out. Do you feel yourself relax? Do you hear the encouraging and understanding words you are saying? Do you see yourself getting a little something done, moving on with your day and patting yourself on the back when you cook dinner and your pantry is neat and tidy? That 2007 turmeric need not defeat us!!